Identifying the cause of contact allergy is essential so it can be avoided if possible. When the cause is unknown, it is often necessary to rely on medication to suppress the allergic reaction. Although antihistamine creams are often used they are not very effective and may even possibly cause allergic contact dermatitis themselves.
Allergic contact dermatitis is treated with steroid and emollient creams. Other treatments may include ultraviolet light with a chemical called a psoralen, know as PUVA, or a recently marketed vitamin A derivative called alitretinoin for persistent hand dermatitis. Emollients help to restore the damaged barrier function and should continue to be applied for weeks or months after the dermatitis is clear. This is particularly important when irritant contact dermatitis is associated with allergic contact dermatitis.